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Franchising the model of scaling social innovations

By Lalit Kumar, Managing Director – Africa  |   Posted 17th September 2020

One of the biggest challenges faced in international development is scaling successful or impactful development innovations. While scaling innovations through governments is always a challenge, it has been equally daunting to scale through non-government and market-based approaches. There are numerous examples of such innovations which have remained stuck on the scaling pathway.

A promising scaling pathway, applicable for certain types of development innovations, is done through a tightly managed franchising-type arrangement for delivery of the innovation. This involves the transfer of the innovator’s knowledge about their innovation’s procedures and protocols to implementing companies and partner organisations. Consider three examples from GIF’s portfolio:

  • No Means No Worldwide delivers its impactful module on reducing gender-based violence to school children in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is now pursuing the path of franchising its module for implementation by partner NGOs with strong field presence.
  • StrongMinds delivers interpersonal therapy on a group-based model to treat depression. It is also working to scale its successful content and delivery model through various partner organisations, including government agencies.
  • A third, SmartStart, supports its franchisee coaches to deliver training and quality management services to informal early childhood care, or ECE, instructors in South Africa.

In all these cases, the biggest challenge facing the entrepreneurs is about transferring the know-how of their impactful innovation to their franchisee partners. This, in turn, is about managing the franchising model and institutionalising robust processes within the partner’s delivery system such that the franchisee delivers the program at high fidelity without any reduction of impact.

Maintaining the integrity of the innovation requires a combination of appropriately formulated and scripted content and delivery model, capacity building within partners, high quality monitoring systems on the fidelity of execution by partners, and periodic accreditation and other implementation support to partners.

GIF is expecting to provide insights about what works in the effective delivery of franchising-type approaches to scaling impactful innovations by from GIF’s growing portfolio of investments and grants in this area.